EXCLUSIVE: 'Superstore' EP Talks Destroying the Set in Epic Finale, Season 3 Plans & That Jonah & Amy Moment!
By Meredith B. Kile
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven’t watched Thursday’s season finale of Superstore!
The employees of Cloud 9 just got blown away!
On Thursday, Superstore ended its second season with a bang. Or rather, a funnel, as a massive tornado touched down on the St. Louis-based big-box franchise, completely destroying the store as the employees ran for cover.
“[We] didn’t expect to do it this year, and then we found out that Universal was having to knock down our soundstages to expand the theme park, and they were going to be moving us onto different stages,” Superstore EP Justin Spitzer recently told ET of demolishing the practical Cloud 9 set on the Universal backlot. “So we knew the set was gonna look somewhat different next year, and we would have to motivate that. Also, it was just a great opportunity to beat the crap out of our current stage and not worry about having to put it back together. It just felt like now’s the time.”
The twister hit the Cloud 9 store at a pivotal moment for the entire team, just after manager Glenn (Mark McKinney) revealed which workers were going to be laid off. And, as they took shelter from the winds and flying debris, certain employees were forced into tight quarters, leading to some tense situations.
Jonah (Ben Feldman) and Amy (America Ferrera), who spent the episode carefully tiptoeing around their candid conversation at Cheyenne’s wedding -- when Amy confessed that she thought her marriage was over and Jonah revealed a little too much of his own feelings in an attempt to cheer her up -- sought cover in the pharmacy and, during a particularly fraught moment, broke their will-they-or-won’t-they romantic stalemate and shared an intense kiss!
— 👻 ᔕᑭOOKY, ᔕᑕᗩᖇY ᔕᑌᑭEᖇᔕTOᖇE 🎃 (@NBCSuperstore) May 5, 2017
“I didn’t even originally intend for them to actually kiss at the end of this episode. For the longest time, they were just going to have a moment when they sort of looked into each other’s eyes as the store was being destroyed around them and kind of have an almost-kiss,” Spitzer admitted. “I just wanted the moment when Amy then decides to go back to her family at the end to have some real resonance, and it felt like there needed to be something as significant as a kiss to make that feel important… It felt like we could do it now and not have it take away all the tension between them.”
As important as the moment may be, however, Spitzer warned that the kiss certainly doesn’t mean happily ever after for the pair, who will have to face the consequences of their adrenaline-charged impulse after the storm has passed.
“The kiss is the first open acknowledgement between both of them that there’s some feelings for each other and it would never have happened if it were not for the tornado,” he explained. “Their relationship can never be the same going forward. [But] it doesn’t necessarily have to lead into them dating or deciding not to date.”
“At the end of the episode, Amy sees her family and realizes how important that is. That’s not something you can just throw away for a fling with a cute guy at work [with whom] you have a sometimes fun, sometimes romantic, sometimes antagonistic relationship,” he added. “I think, if anything, this just has made Amy admit to herself that there’s some feelings for Jonah, and she’s going to have to deal with that. But I don’t know how that’s going to manifest itself yet.”
The tornado also marked a pivotal moment for another couple, Dina (Lauren Ash) and Garrett (Colton Dunn), who were forced to address their coworkers-with-benefits relationship in the face of the dangerous storm. However, Spitzer admitted that the Superstore creative team has “no idea” where that relationship may be headed in the next season.
“We love the characters, we love that they have this relationship where they just want to be sexual… We’re using that couple to play with that idea of ‘Does it really have to be more than that? Or can it just stay sexual?’” he explained. “It wouldn’t surprise me if they ended up trying to date -- I have no idea what dating Dina is like. It also wouldn’t surprise me if they quickly decide that it’s not working. We just have to play around with stories and see where it leads us.”
Spitzer did offer some season three hope for the fired Cloud 9 employees, however, admitting that “everything has been thrown out the window” in terms of layoffs, thanks to the storm destroying the store. He’s even looking forward to exploring more of Superstore’s hilarious side characters.
“I don’t want to lose Marcus (Jon Barinholtz) or Justine (Kelly Schumann) or Myrtle (Linda Porter)… so I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing more of them,” he noted. “We definitely want to keep expanding our world -- bringing in more employees and maybe more people from corporate. That’s the great thing about this environment, there’s just infinite changeover of people.”
“Something we did that was valuable in the first season is, we wrote some generic character sides... and generic employee sides, and asked our casting director to just bring in anyone regardless of age, gender, race to just read for both so we could have a database of really funny people out there that we could just go to if what they bring to the table is something funny and a new flavor we haven’t used,” Spitzer added. "That’s how we found Jon Barinholtz, who was just one of 100 guys who read the same sides, and he was so funny that in our ‘Demotion’ episode, we just had him do those sides, that was exactly what he auditioned with. And so we still have our huge reserve of incredibly talented comedic actors that I think we’ll start going to more and more.”
The sitcom really found its stride in season two, balancing hilarious workplace comedy with impressively ambitious physical bits and meaningful, issues-driven episodes that have tackled everything from labor unions to sexual harassment, something that Spitzer hopes to continue moving forward.
“We’re just telling stories and if there’s some issue that presents itself as being germane to it, or at least tangentially related to it, we just go to it,” he said, noting that there are still some topics, like the gender pay gap, that the show hopes to explore further. “I always like it when we find something that feels a little risky or that scares us about a story, so that we don’t feel like any number of shows we’ve seen in the past. Sometimes going towards those issues is the best way to do it... We’re not trying to teach anything, we’re not trying to prosthelytize…. We use the issue in a way that benefits the story.”